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Andrea K Höst

Australian writer of science fiction and fantasy.
Still Life - Louise Penny The strength of this book is the introduction to the French-dominated portion of Canada, which is indeed interesting. Add to this a relatively slow-moving mystery with a broad array of characters that I couldn't quite warm to (and a whole heap of head-hopping) and I probably would have ended the book enjoying but not loving it and intending to consider the next in the series.But for Agent Nichol.Nichol is a new recruit to the main character, Gamache's team. She is young, from an underprivileged background, intelligent and keen to impress her new boss. After spending a little time in Gamache's head, we move to her point of view and watch her tentative steps at her first murder scene, where she tries to find her feet, and speaks up to volunteer some information and is quietly put back in her place, which is to watch and learn.Gamache (who is a very senior inspector, highly respected) is very big on listening, of observing, and understanding people. So my reader expectation at this point is that Nichol will probably stumble around a bit, maybe stuff up, then settle into the team.But then we soon move on to a scene between Gamache and his trusted lieutenant - discussing what a failure of a recruit Nichol is, how she's totally the wrong type to be a detective, and, frankly, how she's not a very good person. They're considering immediately dropping her from the team.It becomes clear that Nichol _is_ a bad detective - she's so keen to prove herself and big-note herself she ignores a task she's given and lies about it. She is openly derisive of people she meets and puts their backs up. She disobeys orders to shut up and just watch. She seems to be intended to be both Gamache's opposite, and also an example of the same kind of person as the murderer - someone who never matures past childish selfishness and is incapable of real emotional attachment to people. She lacks both empathy and self-awareness.The problem was she didn't present that way when we met her. And for her, this keen to please brand new recruit on a job she really wants for a person who is highly respected - she would have had to have had a lobotomy to be rude to witnesses and civilians in front of him. And then she swiftly moves to completely dismissing the words and judgements of this person she is theoretically supposed to be trying to impress.This inconsistency led me to both not enjoy the book very much, and to also seriously dislike Gamache, so I won't be continuing with the series.